The Weifong International Kite Festival

The kite, which was probably first used for military purposes such as signaling and observation, was invented in China. While legend places its introduction at roughly 500 B C., it is more likely that the first kite was made just prior to the Chi'in dynasty (225-297 B.C.)

Over the centuries, China has gradually evolved its own style of kite-making and, unlike the kites of other Asian nations, modern Chinese kites have a sleek, updated appearance. Nevertheless, in keeping with China's venerable heritage, the designs remain traditional as evidenced by kites bearing such cryptic names as "Man of Longevity" and "The Double Happiness."

Birds are a favorite motif within the kite-making community and, accordingly, one finds kites shaped like owls, eagles, parrots, and cranes as well as the mythical phoenix. There are also insect kites -- bright dragonflies, cicadas and butterflies -- as well as the inevitable dragon.